Two years ago, Mohammed Said found himself at a crossroads. Having completed an apprenticeship as an IT technician, he had performed his military service in a single stretch and also trained as an officer – but he was unsure what step to take next. “I enjoyed the intense pace of military service, but I wanted to accomplish something meaningful in civilian life.” Medicine seemed to him like the perfect choice, says the now 25 year-old. Enthused by the prospect of working for an aid organisation such as Médecins Sans Frontières, he obtained the necessary qualifications from an upper-secondary vocational school, passed the Swiss Passerelle university aptitude test and embarked on a Bachelor’s degree programme.
Said is now in the third semester of the Bachelor of Human Medicine at ETH Zurich. He greatly appreciates the practical insights he has gained so far and how relevant they are, largely thanks to the many doctors involved in the programme. The group of around a hundred students on the course feels almost like a family, he says, and he appreciates the enthusiasm of his fellow students to get to know each other and provide mutual support.
Students who successfully complete their Bachelor’s degree in human medicine at ETH can go on to take a Master’s programme at one of three partner universities. Keen to discover new cultures and learn new languages, Said is already planning to attend the Università della Svizzera italiana (USI) in Ticino. His long-term plans include becoming a doctor and carrying out research. He would also like to continue working abroad, especially in countries where people are not as fortunate as in Switzerland. “I hope I eventually get the opportunity to pass my knowledge on to younger generations,” he says. “But that’s really thinking a long way ahead!”